Poetica Magazine

Poetica Magazine

By John C. Mannone

man shall not live by bread alone

          Deuteronomy 8:3

The scent of stars still falls from heaven,

a gentle mercy, as it did for the Israelites

in the desert—hoarfrost in appearance:

collected, milled, and baked into small

loaves of bread tasting much like honey.

How sweet

the word, but indeed, is needed daily.

Ancient Greeks called it perspiration

from the stars. Even now it falls in Sicily,

drips from Fraxinus ornus, the flowering

ash trees in Castelbuono—thousands

of acres of rough mountain land by my

father’s birthplace near Palermo.

Sink the sickle-shaped mannarolu knife

into the bark of the tree: a light blue

syrup trickles out, runs down the trunk

and unto a nylon thread strung from

the trees to the cactus leaves. Pure manna

collected inside the picturesque leaves

of prickly pear plants.

When exposed to the hot Italian sun,

the maple congeals into white stalactites

spongy with sugar. The dark-gray bark

on this tree remains smooth. The leaves,

bundled in five to nine serrated leaflets,

turn yellow-purple in the fall. Turn the leafy

pages of the Torah, and eat the good Word.